August 31st, 2019 – 339

I’m exhausted and skirting on the edge of consciousness. Target is hit but not with VOL, and only 500 words were VOL yesterday.It’s fine, I’m shattered so it was inevitable. I’ll just need to bounce back after a good night’s sleep. G’nite.

August 30th, 2019 – 338

Hamilton is amazing. That is all.

…Ok no that’s not all, I will do an actual entry because on my current track record I’ll end up doing cop-out entries for the weekend. The show was, once again, amazing. We got to sit in a box which was a surreal experience, never done anything that fancy before. I bought far too much merchandise, as I felt last time I was far too controlled with my spending. I even managed to get a Hamilton pin, something I’ve hunted for for ages now and was starting to think didn’t exist, so snapped up right away.

I also bought a journal, and this has now become my answer to my mini essay the other day on short stories. You see, when I write a short story on Google Docs, it’s easy and takes little to no effort to push out, but that also minimises the attachment I have to it. Even a story like The Rope Broke which is always going to hold a special place in my heart as my first award winning story feels, odd, because it was written in a digital form first. I also never go back and edit my short stories.

Back before TUS 1.0, these roles were reversed. I wrote long (bad) stories on the PC, but I wrote my short stories on paper, as I did them at writing societies and didn’t bring a laptop. As such, I cringe looking at my old longer stories, but my old shorts I still enjoy. One day I may post The Kitten Sanctuary, though fair warning it’s the most gruesome thing I’ve ever written outside of The Wanderer. At least it’s written as a comedy and intended as shock humour, unlike the latter which is a disturbing self portrait of my own darkest flaws.

So this journal is going to emulate those days of old. I’ll start writing all my short stories in there first, and then transition them elsewhere. I may start with A Planet Named George, which is a short story I’ve wanted to write for months now and is pretty darn fitting to put in a Hamilton journal of all places. That makes me feel like I’m treating my short stories with the respect they deserve, and that makes me feel a lot better.

Right, I have a CDWC of 0 – this is the reason I don’t open with that all the time now, it’s a little depressing – but I’ll try and squeeze in some VOL between incoming students. I want to go to the shop tonight and play some Magic, or at least go on VC and play some Minecraft, so I want to get target done long before then. That way I can stay up if I want to, but don’t have to do my writing while sleep derped at 2am. Cya.

August 29th, 2019 – 337

It’s Hamilton day! I’ve been looking forward to today for so long it’s unreal. I’d wanted to go back and see the show again ever since I left the first time, and you bet it’ll be the same when I leave tonight. This is also gratifying for me as – due to no one getting to book holiday time at the moment – I did 5 hours free in-lieu to earn it. It still feels weird leaving the site when I am scheduled in, but at least I’ve been above board about it.

So writing! I, haven’t done any yet. That’s not my fault though, as today has been a super busy day, and I have done a lot of vital work over the last hour and a half. That too leaves me feeling better about leaving sooner. I’m giving the college their money’s worthwhile I’m here. That said, I do want to try and hit 1K on the train. That’s no easy feat, but it’s not out of the question. I wrote the last 3,000 words of TSS’s first draft on a train journey back from Harry Potter World in 2014.

So I have 23,000 words to go for VOL to be all typed up, and 19 days until my sort of deadline. That’s ok, as three 1,300 days buys me one of the mission ones, so that’ll close some of the gap if I do it. You’ll notice though that would mean I’d need to write 1,300 words 12 out of the 19 days. That, is less plausible. I should stress I am not attached to that deadline. I still stick by my old mantra of “it gets done when it gets done”. But I would still like to try and make that deadline.

The reason I bring it up is, well, you saw how I got towards the end of WHT. I’m wary, as I know I can chain days like that, and I do also know that I shouldn’t. Jeez, I need to lay off the italics aaaaand I just spotted the creepy double f thing again. *shudder*.

Ok, that paragraph went off-topic. Ahem. So if I want to stay on track, I need to write about 1,200 words a day. That as you know is a breach of 1K, as I shouldn’t assign myself larger word totals outside of one-shots. Even then I shouldn’t push myself to do it unless I’m already on a roll. So here is my compromise: the 27th. In a way, this is a far more fitting deadline for VOL’s typed draft.

Why? Because that’s the day, in less than a month now, that 1K turns 1 year old. You know what? I am a-ok with delaying the deadline for that sweet symbolism.

August 28th, 2019 – 336

Target hit again before blogging. Ok so I would most of the time like to have my blog post done and dusted by 10:30 at the latest, but as I was chipping away large chunks of VOL in my downtime between jobs at work, I decided to hold off until  I had target. This was for two reasons. First, it’s nice to come on here and say “all done!” as oppose to “will be done really soon(tm).” Second, it’s a motivator to clear the 1K threshold sooner rather than later, and doing so gives me more of my evening.

I’m getting broadband! I managed for months without it but at long last I’m being nice to myself and going “Ok, I can justify £30-40 a month” instead of working off mobile data. In the meantime I am working through DVDs of vintage episodes of The Simpsons to save data at home. Boy do I wish I had access to that at work because they are great to listen to in the background, but I do have YouTube at work for that.

Now I’m past the visual layer in VOL, I feel a lot more at ease with the story. The whole thing needs a top to bottom rewrite, but that’s fine and will happen between now and a full upload. Also, when I have an uploaded story it’s in my interest to go back and make tweaks. If you make a certain number of them over the course of a year, they become eligible for the next year’s Wattys, and when I’m rolling at full speed I want to have 4-5 books entered each year into that, pretty much until they can’t ignore me anymore.

On that note, I have not done enough reviewing sprees, any in fact for a long time now. That’s really bad, as it means I’ll fall off people’s radar. A combination of fatigue from work being far too intense these last few months and me rediscovering hobbies that I like to do at home are to blame. The former, well that’s life, if my writing takes off I can leave a lot of that behind. The latter is hardly a bad thing, it’s good that I am making more time for leisure.

All that said, I need to catch up on my reviews. The reason I’m not treating it with a shedload of urgency this minute is because when TUS is all uploaded, people will be more inclined to read start to finish. I’ve had several comments to the tune of “yeah it’s on my list, I’m just waiting for it to be complete”, which is fair enough. When I have a few complete books up, say three, I think I’ll hook more serial readers. For now though I do need to work on cultivating more.

I should focus on the positives. I am with luck going to hit 50 followers by the end of TUS. My Amazon giveaway promotion will help boost those numbers a bit and get people’s attention for VOL’s first chapter. We’re on track, and to be honest all of these goals are arbitrary. The focus is on making sure I keep engaging with the platform, and while yes I’ve slowed a bit I am still doing that. On that note, it’s time to upload the next chapter of TUS. Cya.

August 27th, 2019 – 335

Target already hit. Nope I’m not joking, I hit target in between people coming to my desk for enrolment. It is almost as if when I’m well rested and I don’t have people sitting behind me, I can hit target in no time at all, and still be 100% on top of my work. Go figure, whoever would have known.

Ok slight snark aside, it’s nice to feel in control this week, and while yes, I won’t be in this situation forever, it does mean I have reason to push for – should any office reorganisation take place – me not being in the middle where I feel a bit too vulnerable to focus. Open plan offices man, they are not the greatest. Still never mind about that, right now I can relax knowing I’ll get a super early night tonight.

It helps that yesterday I wrote 1,000 words in the form of the mini essay I uploaded to here. I did not do VOL, and forcing myself to break my story-chain and do a more leisurely 1K helped in a big way. I knew it would, I’ve proved that time and time again over this project. So now I need to be more disciplined about that, and maybe look into my last day before going back to work being a “write something at 12pm, even if it’s not story content” to correct my routine on that day.

Right, back to work, and then who knows beyond that. I am out of mobile data for the month, but I might buy a new slate of data tonight. That isn’t cheap so I do not take it lightly, but I think I’ll regret it if I don’t. More importantly, I am going to get myself broadband again at last. I managed to avoid it for eight months, but it was never going to be a long term solution. Still, saved me a fortune.

On Writing Short Stories “to hit Target”

There are days that I cannot touch any of the main novels in my series. This can be because I get overwhelmed by them. At times I’m lost and need a while to find my head within the reeds. At times I come to loathe the stories and do not wish that to translate onto the page. I have to step away, as even thorough rewrites can’t purge bile baked in so deep.
 
On those days in a time gone by, I opened a Google Doc, and I began to write out my thoughts. This had a name, I called them “extra ideas”, and in total, I wrote 50. I also wrote 7 “recovery docs” post breaking up with my partner to get back on my feet. That rounds out the list as a neat Heinz of these brain dumps. They served their purpose, but now they’re a relic of times recent, yet so far ago.
 
So on days where I cannot face my main stories what do I do? I write short stories. In the last year, I’ve written a total of 23 of them, only including those on Google Docs that I titled. Plenty more I wrote in part then abandoned. In the overwhelming majority of these stories, I had one goal: get to a thousand words. That’s fine, 1K is my target and I can hit it with anything. I’m aiming to hit it with this essay for example, though I do not count my regular blog entries.
 
There is a problem with this: I should not write only to hit a goal. In my head, writing should be to weave stories. Its goal is to encourage debate and make people feel in ways they haven’t tried before. I don’t claim to have any notable skill in that but my integrity for my main series is intact, that is always my goal. Not so with many of my short tales.
 
There are exceptions. The Rope Broke smashed target 4 times over but I wrote it to tell a story. I have a couple of private stories that I write for my enjoyment alone. A couple of commissions on top that I know have brought joy to the people who requested them. But many – including several horror shorts – add nothing to the pool of my work other than words. I’m not writing this to question the merits of any one story. All great writing is rewriting and many would work as longer pieces, or even as they are with tweaks.
 
I ask alone, what the purpose of a short story should be. Should I, for example, write every short for my WattPad audience? Should I write these one-shots for me alone, as the closest thing to “breaks” I take within 1K? Or, should I not write them at all? I purged Extra Ideas because I looked at my stats and saw clear as the day they held me back. A third of your average month got consumed by them, and they were bile and nonsense, for the most part, not fit to share.
 
Thing is, 1K grew on a foundation of as few arbitrary rules as I can get by with. In fact, I can list them on the fingers of one hand:
  • I must before going to bed – whatever time that happens – write a thousand words.
  • Messages do not count unless they stand alone outside the message (ie, I write an essay in a text).
  • My blog doesn’t count.
  • Stuff I do for my job at the college doesn’t count.
You can even condense it into one line. ‘I must write a thousand words a day that are not messages college work or my blog before I sleep at night.’ That’s it. So introducing a “short stories only count if they are WattPad ready” clause is against what 1K stands for. Take this essay – I could upload it to WattPad, but I won’t. You could argue of course that as this is on my blog it does not count. In the latter case, it happens to be here, it’s not a blog entry.
 
My biggest case and point though is in the bullet points above. Read those rules again. Do you see where I ruled out Extra Ideas? No? That’s because I never did. In the same way, I do not believe in prescribing what is and isn’t writing to others, I do not do so to myself. My journal, for example, can count towards 1K, but I only write it after I’ve hit target anyway. In a pinch, there’s a loophole waiting for me.
 
So this has been one-sided so far, let’s talk about the merits of a prescriptivist approach. First, more content for my WattPad page. That can only be a plus, though there is an argument that not all those stories work for WattPad. Then again if The Wanderer is going to get put on there then all bets are off.
 
Another good point in favour of being restrictive with what I count is not slipping back. I don’t want to end up back in the 50% efficiency early days of the project. If I do, then I will fall behind and miss upload deadlines I’m committed to.
 
But I have one argument that seals it for me, and it’s why I made a conscious choice to type this instead of VOL today. That is, even if I have to write, I have to have breaks too. If I don’t, I crack. Want the proof of that? Look over the blog posts from this month. Safe to say, I ain’t been doing so good.
 
I wrote this essay because I did not know which way I would come down on the issue of the purpose of short stories. I still see them as more than 1K fodder, but I need a bedrock that can catch me somewhere. On a positive note, I have to remember that TUS started as a short story eight years ago. That grew into my greatest achievement. Even when works come about out of need instead of art, they can still grow into beautiful outcomes.
 
Food for thought.

August 26th, 2019 – 334

I haven’t gotten anywhere near enough sleep last night and I am feeling pretty darn awful for it. I’ve still got to do my writing for the day and I think I should do something that isn’t VOL or TSS to get some headspace, then sleep as early as I can. I’m such a mess at this point that even if it ruins my sleep cycle more I won’t feel it.

I finished typing up chapter 5 yesterday, so the first 22-23 chapters of the shorter chapter structure. It’s shy of 50k by about 122 words, so I’m sorely tempted to do that, but I have to put my foot down for my health. If I don’t I’ll crash hard by Thursday and I do Not want that.

I’m going to Hamilton on the 29th, and if I’m too ill or tired to enjoy it I will be cross at myself. I want to go work on writing so I can sleep but I can’t this second. So I’m thinking I might try and write to target sitting here on my phone. Hopefully I’ll have target by 7pm, and then I’ll sleep for over 12 hours. I need to,I can’t afford not to.

I’m stressed and tired and sick of my sleep being messed up. I want to go sleep, I want to go rest and I can’t. But such is life, gotta deal with it and make the most of what I can get. For now I’ll try and hot target on Google Docs and go crash later. On that note, wish me luck.